A Philosopher's Blog

And My Hate Grows…

Posted in Technology by Michael LaBossiere on February 22, 2011
Nokia n79

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I am generally a calm person, devoid of hate. However, smart phones have earned a place on my hate list through the diligent efforts of their minions. I do feel a bit silly wasting hate on these things, but they seem to have earned it and hence I would be remiss not to reward their efforts.

When I first learned of smart phones, they were not too smart but even then I could see their devilish potential. I say “devilish” rather than “demonic” because they represent an orderly and disciplined sort of evil rather than the chaotic evil of the demonic.

My first significant bad experience with a smart phone (two actually) was on a first and last date. My “date” arrived at the coffee shop talking om her Blackberry and when I tried to greet her, she raised a finger (not the middle one) indicating that I must wait for her master to be finished with her. It went downhill from there. Through the course of the date she shifted between two smart phones and we only spoke for a while. Most of that conversation was spent by her explaining why she was recently single after being engaged. Apparently her former man had arranged a romantic weekend at a beach house with the condition that she not use her phone. He caught her in the closet at 3:00 am working her Blackberry and broke up on the spot. Our “date” ended with her saying that she had received a call that the significant other of a friend was being deployed to Iraq and that she had to go. She asked me if I minded and I did not-I was happy to have that ordeal over. I never called her again-in part because I knew that damn phone would be listening in.

After that most of my annoyance at smart phones were fairly minor-students using them in class, people using them in movies, people shouting into them in public, and so on. I did, however, have another major incident-my truck got sideswiped by a van driven by a woman talking on her phone. I can only assumed it commanded her to try to kill me.

Not surprisingly my girlfriend has a smart phone and it clearly senses that we are rivals. I am, of course, not much of a rival. After all, it is always there and seems to have direct control of her brain. It loves to torture me by bleeping and blorping when I am trying to take a nap and sometimes tries to kill me by distracting her when cars are heading towards the passenger side of her car. Plus it demands and gets her attention during most of her waking hours. Like Heinlein’s puppet masters, it rides attached to her, controlling her. As you might imagine, I hate the damn thing and have a recurring fantasy of tossing it into a wood chipper.

The damn things have even managed to intrude into my gaming. Interestingly, the one player who has the king of smart devices (the iPad) pretty much just uses it for the game. However, the other players caress their little masters throughout the game, whispering their love to them. I can actually see them struggling: pay attention to the demon that is trying to kill them…or stare at their own little devil. Eventually, the little devils win. It starts small-a player uses his phone to roll dice and then plays an audio clip that he claims “matches the combat.” Suddenly, the sounds of a South Park clip ring out. Goaded by their fellow, the other little devils command their servants to surf the net in search of even more inane clips to play at full volume and soon even the plastic demon figure is weeping from the pain of being ignored.

Other social gatherings are also cursed by the damn things. While some people have the will (and sense) to keep their little devils shackled at such events, others give in to their little lords. As soon as a conversation at a restaurant hits a natural lull, someone will whip out a smartphone and start playing Bejeweled or checking their email for the 666th time that day. This used to bother me, but I now use the opportunity to help myself to the person’s appetizers.

I had thought that running would be safe from them. After all, while people do drive with their master pressed against their head running while using a smart phone seemed to be a bit much. But not so. While some people do use their iPhones as music players while running, I have run with people while they are using their phone as a phone. The first time it happened, I just sort of stared in amazement. In part I was impressed that the person could dial and talk while maintaining a decent pace. In part I was horrified that the power of the masters had grown so much.

I do have a sort of smart phone, but it spends its time turned off in my backpack. I got it after being badgered for years to get one and I just carry it for when I travel (so I can call people to tell them my flight will be late) and for emergencies. I did look at getting an actual smart phone, since I like my iPod touch, but seeing what they do to people convinced me to not take the risk. So, my phone no doubt is mocked by its fellow devils and surely plots my demise.

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12 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on February 22, 2011 at 9:00 am

    All your phones are belong to us.

  2. WTP said, on February 22, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Smart phones don’t annoying people, rude people annoy people.

  3. monkeywithpants said, on February 22, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Resistance is futile!! You will be one of us!!

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Never. I don’t like my personal evil tainted by lesser evils. Now, if the smart phones want to sign up as my minions, I am (as always) taking applications.

  4. Asur said, on February 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Heh, you know where this is going, right?

    Have you played the latest Shadowrun? Everyone has these little ‘augmented reality’ devices — not even cyberware, they just sit on your head like lightweight sports headphones. They do what you’d expect (cellphone, PDA, GPS, internet, etc.), but they have a micro laser array that projects 3D images onto your retina so you can configure them to give you all sorts of real-time informational ‘overlays’ to what you see, sorta like a very fancy HUD.

    Of course, billboards and physical in-store advertising are a thing of the past — it’s all in glorious neon and 3D, projected straight to your AR device. Gives spam a whole new spin.

    It’s the future, bro.

  5. FRE said, on February 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I don’t have a smartphone. Instead, I have the dumbphone, the dumbest available. I have it for emergency use.

    Here in Albuquerque, we have a stupid city ordinance; it makes it illegal to talk on a hand-held ‘phone while driving. That leads people to believe that it is safe to drive while talking on a hands-free ‘phone, despite studies which indicate that hands-free ‘phones are not much safer than hand-held ‘phones. Once I was riding with a real estate agent while he was talking on one of the THREE cell ‘phones he had with him; he ran a red light! Fortunately there wasn’t an accident. Although it scared him, he still talks on the ‘phone while driving.

    It might help to listen in on people’s conversations and comment on them. For example, if someone is talking on a ‘cell phone while shopping, one could make it clear the he is listening and, after the ‘phone conversation has been completed, as questions about the call, such as, “Did Matilda find that her analyst was helpful?” Or, “When do you think you might resume talking to your husband?” Or, “It really is frustrating when a man is too fast in bed.”

    I would quickly write off anyone who habitually paid excessive attention to an electronic device.

  6. umesh bawa said, on February 23, 2011 at 12:04 am

    suppose to be real gambler behind decreasing sale of smart phones… This is one of your marvellous trick

  7. urbannight said, on February 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I went from a phone with a few nice features down to a track phone with the same features for a fraction of the monthly bill.

    I tell people I can’t bother with a smart phone until they find a way to implant it into the flesh and wire it to the brain. When I can stay connected without the use of an external device I’ll give it a go.

    Of course, that’s when the devices will truely become the masters.

  8. […] And My Hate Grows… (aphilosopher.wordpress.com) […]

  9. Trinity River said, on March 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

    They are handy little devils. So far I’ve managed to avoid people who think they take precedence over the person actually with them.

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